Iraq has finished the first phase of its ballot count. The voting has been counted a success by some. And who wouldn't like to be optimistic. In the end though, the proof will be in the pudding. And much will have to take place for Iraq to have a system even faintly resembling a democracy. Personally, I don't see how a country can have heavy outside (= U.S.) involvement and still have a democracy. Of course, this isn't just an Iraqi problem but rather a world problem--and one that comes from a failure of people around the world to embrace internationalist ideals and institutions. But it's a problem that won't go away. Undoubtedly, there are CIA agents at this very moment (along with their Iranian, Israeli, and Saudi counterparts) handing envelopes heavy with cash to their favorite political party. Some proxies working for some other CIA agent, meanwhile, are undoubtedly slitting the throat of some other populist politicians that are failing to read Uncle Sam's script. And yet we're told that the simple act of voting is sure to lucidly reflect the will of the Iraqi demos.
My guess is that if the Iraqi demos ever rises up and challenges the American playbook, they'll suddenly find themselves playing for the opposing team, in which case, the numbers won't matter any more than they did when Saddam was quarterback.
Other blogments on the elections include some more optimistic comments at Far East (Japanese), Random Thoughts, and Emigre with a Digital Cluebat. Also check out Dohiyi Mir and Juan Cole.